Flanders Moss IPA
Location: Flanders Moss lies in the Carse of Stirling, 15km west of Stirling, between the villages of Kippen and Thornhill.
Grid Reference: NS 635 985
Flanders Moss is the largest lowland raised bog in Britain and from a distance you can clearly see its domed shape as it stretches across the horizon. Intact lowland examples of raised mire are becoming increasingly rare and declining in global terms, making Flanders Moss of international importance.
The moss is now home to a complex bog vegetation and sphagnum mosses, although in the past it has been targeted for peat cutting for both fuel and horticultural supplies. Bogs are made by plants, and as the name suggests, lowland raised bogs form in low-lying areas where water accumulates in a hollow in the underlying landform. Various bog mosses begin to grow in this wet hollow and when they die, new mosses grow up through their dead remains. Because the ground is waterlogged, the organisms of decay cannot function fully, so the remains of the dead mosses are not completely broken down. The partially-decayed remains of bog mosses are what we call peat.
Only a few, tough heathland plants can grow in this peat because of the waterlogging and the plant acids it contains. The best bogs are ones where bog mosses are still growing and peat is still forming, called 'active bogs'. Parts of Flanders are still active, which is one reason the Moss is so special.
The delicate clumps that each species of bog moss forms are subtly different, each with its own beauty. Sphagnum magellanicum, S. papillosum, S. tenellum and S. cuspidatum are some of the species that grow here, together with hummocks of the nationally scarce S. austinii and the nationally rare S. majus. Other mosses and liverworts grow amongst them, creating a rich bryophyte community.
The names of many of the flowering plants at Flanders show their affinity to bogs: they include bog myrtle, bog asphodel, bog rosemary, bog cranberry and bog cotton (more correctly called common cotton-grass). The Moss is famous as a site of rhododendron relative called Labrador tea. It is believed that this was brought to Britain from North America, either as a deliberate introduction or possibly carried by wild birds. Drier areas are dominated by ling and cross-leaved heath growing with the cotton-grass.
Image: ©Laurie Campbell